HE’S hiked in the Himalayas and mastered the Matterhorn, now Ponteland tutor Carl Halliday is ready to crack the canyon.
The outdoor education lecturer has been invited to join a team of 15 kayaking enthusiasts from across the UK for the trip of a lifetime, travelling 225 miles on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
Mr Halliday, who works at Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus, can expect to encounter around 150 rapids on the journey and waves up to 15ft high – and if there are flash floods, the team will have to face a further two days of paddling another 61 miles to Lake Mead.
But the adventurer can’t wait to get started on the challenge, which will begin at the end of the month.
“I was delighted to be invited onto the expedition, which involves an independent team kayaking and rafting the Colorado River in Arizona. The fact that the expedition isn’t guided and is self-sufficient is what really appeals to me,” he said.
“There are around 150 named rapids, some of which are massive, waves routinely reach ten to 15ft high and there are features that can swallow, hold and flip large rafts. The river is prone to flash floods at the time of year that we are going so we are going to have to be on our game to ensure that we don’t flip any of our support rafts or lose any equipment.
“As well as kayaks, we will have four white water rafts with us, used to carry our camping equipment and food, and will be taking turns to row these along with the kayaks.
“We will be camping on sandy beaches and in side-canyons within the Grand Canyon and will share the evening camping duties and cooking. The various challenges will require effective teamwork and this will all add to the camaraderie that I enjoy on such trips.”
The expedition is being led by Director of the British Canoe Union Mike Devlin and Chris Heaney, a former lecturer at Northumberland College.
Permits for the canyon kayak are extremely limited and it has taken ten years for Mr Heaney to obtain one.
“This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Mr Halliday.
“There is a weighted lottery system for permits, but you could wait for 25 years for your number to come up. Chris Heaney registered for a permit about ten years ago so it hasn’t been as long as it could have been.
“I’m sure that everyone fortunate enough to be on this trip will do their best to savour every minute.”
Mr Halliday is used to taking on challenges across the globe. In the last year he has led successful trips to the summits of Stok Kangri in the Himalayas and the Matterhorn in Switzerland, and in August he will attempt Mount Blanc and other routes in the Alps with members of Northumberland College Crag and Mountain Club.
He said: “It is experiences like these that keep me and my team at Kirkley Hall on top of our game and keep us passionate about what we do, which is passed on to our students through our courses.”
Mr Halliday’s kayak experience will begin on Friday, June 29, at the historical site of Lees Ferry and is due to end at Diamond Creek two weeks later.
All outdoor education students at Kirkley Hall take a national Level 3 award in Basic Expedition Leadership as part of their course and a lot have gone on to become successful leaders and coaches.
The college is currently recruiting for courses starting in September.